Despite level crossing works, sports training commitments and the general busyness of life, each service was well attended, and speakers encouraged us all to continue to ‘attempt great things and expect great things’. For those in Year 12, these gatherings are a reminder that their time at Carey as a student is fast drawing to a close, and that there is much they can do to help others in the years to come.
Speaking at one of our Chapel services was Carey alum and Baptist Minister Derek Bradshaw. Looking forward to the next school holidays, I can’t wait to find the time to visit the new not-for-profit café at Rosanna Railway Station, owned by the team behind Now and Not Yet in Warrandyte, a social enterprise movement founded by Derek Bradshaw and his vision to serve great food and coffee while supporting the local community.
Hopefully each of us have in our own way taken time this term to reflect on the school attribute of being able to communicate confidently in a variety of ways. Much of our focus in the weekly Middle School Chapels in recent weeks has been the positive impact of Aboriginal pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO OBE (1906–1988) and Lady Gladys Nicholls (1906–1981), both from Yorta Yorta Country. Sir Douglas, affectionately known as Pastor Doug, was an AFL footballer, campaigner for reconciliation and the first non-white Governor of South Australia. His wife, Lady Gladys, was an activist and charity worker, and as well as her Yorta Yorta roots, she is also of Indian heritage on her father’s side, who settles in Australia to become a shopkeeper in Barmah. Throughout National Reconciliation Week, we have been asked to reflect on what it means to be a voice for generations and how the words of the Nicholls are still being listened to. In a sermon in 1957 at a Church of Christ gathering in Northcote, Pastor Doug reflected on Acts 17 in the Bible and the story where Paul was talking to the Athenian residents and explaining how Jesus unites people from different backgrounds. Pastor Doug used the text to raise the issue of why people need to care about the plight of First Nations people across Australia. Of First Nations peoples, Pastor Doug said, ‘Firstly, we belong to a great family of God and God had made out of one blood all nations of people. Secondly, why you should bother about the Aborigines; we’re part of the Great British Commonwealth of Nations. And thirdly, we want to walk with you. We don’t wish to walk alone.’
Pictured above is a memorial statue of Pastor Doug and Lady Gladys in Parliament Gardens, Melbourne. The memorial says: River People who turned the tide of history and injustice to progress the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is the first memorial statue in Melbourne dedicated to two Aboriginal community leaders, Pastor Sir Doug and Lady Gladys Nicholls. They vigorously fought for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across this country and are an eternal symbol of our ongoing history and commitment to human rights in Australia.
The Nicholls story is one of challenges and recognition that builds on the work of other First Nations Christian leaders like William Cooper. One quote that beautifully sums up Pastor Doug’s deep desire for reconciliation within our country both then and now is ‘to get a tune out of the piano, you can play the black notes, and you can play the white notes. But to get harmony you need both.’
May God grant to each of us the strength to follow Pastor Doug and Lady Gladys' example in promoting reconciliation and acceptance and may the following prayer titled Sorry Day which was written by the Aboriginal and Islander Commission National Council of Churches in Australia 2002 guide our decision making in Reconciliation Week.
Let us pray.
Almighty and loving God, you who created all people in your image,
Lead us to seek your compassion as we listen to the stories of our past.
You gave your only Son, Jesus, who died and rose again so that sins will be forgiven.
We place before you the pain and anguish of dispossession of land, language, lore, culture and family kinship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced.
We live in faith that all people will rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have endured the pain and loss of loved ones, through the separation of children from their families.
We are sorry and ask God’s forgiveness.
Touch the hearts of the broken, homeless and inflicted and heal their spirits.
In your mercy and compassion walk with us as we continue our journey of healing to create a future that is just and equitable.
Lord, you are our hope. Amen.
Rev. Scott Bramley
Middle School Chaplain
Feature image: Wikipedia